Mangaluru, Oct 22, 2015: A recent news report says that Lighthouses across the country will soon become tourist destinations, with the union government working on a plan to promote them as part of its port project. Union Ministry of Shipping will join forces with the Environment Ministry and the Director General of Lighthouses & Lightships (DGLL) to promote lighthouse tourism under the public-private partnership model. The ministry held a meeting to woo investors to the lighthouse projects, which is part of the "Sagarmala project". In Mangaluru city the scenario is one of neglect and frustrating. Here the powers that be have neglected several prime spots of our city, look at the fate of the lighthouse on Lighthouse Hill/Bavutagudde, or the Bolar one; but they are now set to get crores of rupees to make this a ’smart city’. Where will we end up?
Ministry of Shipping Additional Secretary Alok Srivastava said the RFQ (request for qualification) for the project has already been given for eight lighthouses including Aguada (Goa), Chandrabhaga (Odisha), Mahabalipuram, Kanniyakumari and Muttom (Tamil Nadu), Kadalur Point (Thikkodi, Kerala), Kanhoji Angre and Sunk Rock (Maharashtra) and Minicoy (Lakshadweep).
The DGLL has also issued expression of interest for a further 70 lighthouses, the official said adding the lighthouse project could generate employment for local youth in the coastal areas.
Old Port/Bolar lighthouse neglected :
Mangaluru : But sadly the historic centurion Old Port or Bunder Lighthouse at Hoigebazaar/Bolar, which serves more than 1,000 boats and over 60 cargo vessels negotiate confluence of sea and rivers day and night is in utter neglect (see picture). The lighthouse, established in 1862 and located next to Karnataka Fisheries Development Corporation Limited, is malfunctioning for more than a year. The port officials seem to be least bothered at the woes of the fishermen. Alongside this lighthouse, the weather mast (which gives signals/warning to fishermen in boats in case of storms/cyclones) too has stopped functioning. Creepers have covered the lighthouse and the weather mast. It may not be surprising if both of these ’vanish’ in the not-so-distant future. In addition, there is a signal tower with VHF facility. But due to lack of manpower, the facility is defunct leaving boatmen to the mercy of the Gods. The essential facilities here have come to a standstill and no Keeper is on the spot at all times as needed. But the department concerned continues to collect ’light dues,’ based on the tonnage of the ships/vessels, complain the users of the port.
When the local MLA visited the Port Office recently, the Officer Capt. T Swami, said that plans were in the pipe line to hand over this lighthouse at Hoigebazaar/ Bolar to the department concerned in the Central government, like in the case of the ones at Surathkal, Kaup. It is hoped that in the meanwhile steps will be insured that this ancient structure and scenic location will not further deteriorate and a dedicated Keeper will be posted full time immediately. The concerned authorities must immediately take corrective actions.